City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico

In southern New Mexico, there is a natural volcanic art exhibit in the high Chihuahuan desert. And, this volcanic fairyland is the very photogenic City of Rocks State Park. Here, erosion has revealed a city of pinacles and towers of volcanic rock in a slight depression in the Mimbres River valley.

Photographs from City of Rocks State Park

Tips for photographing City of Rocks

Here are some tips for photographing the wonders of City of Rocks State Park. Here is more information from the State of News Mexico about this state park: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/cityofrocksstatepark.html.

Camp in the park

One of the best features of City of Rocks is that you can camp amongst the rock formations in designation sites. In addition to these dry camping sites, there are electric sites located near the visitor’s center. Camping in the park makes it easy to shoot at dawn and dusk, as well as shoot star trails at night.

Walk the park

There are many opportunities to walk around and within City of Rocks. The rock formations create a city-like feel with streets and alleyways. Many interesting shot are possible from viewpoints looking out through the rocks.

Then, there is a road encircling the “city” that is very walkable–especially in the early morning or evening when there is very little automobile traffic. From the road, there are good shots into the city, as well as out to the surrounding desert.

Finally, there is a trail that rings the ring road, allowing for views into the rock formations from several overlooks. And, there are several spur trails connecting this ring trail with the ring road. Keep in mind that there is NO shade available along any of the trails.

Work the golden hours

The rock formations are light brown to pink in color, often covered by various shades of lichen. Therefore, the most dramatic shots will be around dawn and dusk, enhancing the warm hues of the rock. That’s no surprise. However, as the sun gets a bit higher in the sky, walk among the pinnacles and shoot up at the various birds nesting in the high towers. Then use the mid-day to refresh and plan your evening sortie.

Star trails, anyone?

City of Rocks is a dark-sky area. So, it is a favorite destination for serious sky-watchers, such as the New Mexico Skies Astronomy Enclave. That means that the park is a good place to photograph star trails and do light painting.

Geology of City of Rocks

The underlying geology of the this area coupled with water and wind erosion, are the forces responsible for this unique geologic formation. The eroded welded tuffs, or ignimbrites, that form the City come from the Kneeling Nun eruption 34 million years ago. You can google City of Rocks to find many publications about the volcanic activity of of south-central New Mexico.

Purchasing our photographs

All of our scenic photographs are available as fine art prints. Use the contact form to the right to get more information. Or, go to our Fine Art Print page to learn about various pricing options.